Estonian tennis player Anett Kontaveit defeated Chinese player Zhang Shuai 6:3, 6:3 in round one of the WTA Sydney Tennis Classic in Australia on Sunday.
The Australian Open warm-up tournament started with a tight opening set, but Kontaveit was able to win three consecutive games at 2:2 to eventually take the first set 6:3. The Estonian broke Zhang's serve to start the second set and took a 2:0 lead and did not allow her opponent back into the match, eventually ending the match with another 6:3 set victory.
Kontaveit won on 89 percent of her first serve points and saved the only break point Zhang had in the match, also converting three of her five break points. The match lasted an hour and 12 minutes.
Kontaveit saw little short of a transformation in her form in the latter half of last year under coach Dmitry Tursunov, winning nearly all her last 30 encounters, including two WTA tournament wins in Russia and Romania, and ending up ranked seventh in the world, the first Estonian tennis player to break the top 10.
The Estonian is seeded fourth for the tournament, to be played on the outdoor hard courts of the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Center, behind local hero and world number one Ashleigh Barty, Garbine Muguruza (Spain) – who defeated Kontaveit in the season-ending Guadalajara tournament final last November – and Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic).
Altogether, seven of the top 10 women players worldwide are competing in Sydney, including Ons Jabeur, who Kontaveit replaced at the eleventh hour by booking a spot in the Guadalajara tournament.
The Australian Open at Melbourne Park starts Monday, January 17.
Estonia's other tennis star, veteran player Kaia Kanepi, reached round two of the WTA 250 Summer Set 1 competition, also in Melbourne, earlier in the week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste